Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Angolan Foreign Minister Paolo Jorge met today on the Namibian independence negotiations, State Department spokesman John Hughes announced, but there were no public indications that a solution to the future of the southern African territory has yet been reached.
Hughes said that the sensitive issue of Cuban troops in Angola had figured in the discussions but that he did not want to characterize the negotiations, which are continuing.
The Reagan administration has made a Namibia settlement the cornerstone of its African policy and has portrayed agreement on withdrawal of the Cubans as the only major obstacle to a settlement.
The Cuban withdrawal, which South Africa is said to be demanding, is technically not a part of the direct discussions on Namibia's independence, but has been a key subject of several U.S. missions to the region and of a presidential letter to African leaders.
Angola insists that the future of the Cuban troops is strictly a subject between Luanda and Havana.
At a press conference prior to his meeting with Shultz, Jorge rejected reported U.S. claims that Angola had accepted the principle of a Cuban pullout and that all that remained was the timetable.
He expressed the hope, however, that independence for Namibia would come during 1983. If this is to happen, agreement on the principles for independence would have to be negotiated in the coming weeks as implemention of an accord is expected to take several months at best.
Jorge said his recent talks in Luanda with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frank Wisner covered Namibia and normalization of relations with the United States. He said no further talks were scheduled but that he was open to continue discussions with Washington at any time.
On the reported U.S. claims of progress on the Cuban pullout, Jorge said, "Maybe the American administration is taking wishes as realities and the reality is different."
Jorge did open the door to the principal of a withdrawal, however, by pointing to a joint Cuban-Angolan declaration of last February.
In outlining the Angolan position, Jorge said the keys to a Cuban pullout would be:
Progress on implementing U.N. Security Council resolution 435, which deals with Namibian independence.
A cease-fire between Angolan and South African troops.
The putting in place of a U.N. force in Namibia and along the Angolan-Namibian border.
A "considerable reduction in the threat of invasion by South African forces."
When these criteria are met, Jorge said, "Angola and the Cuban government will set up a new program of gradual withdrawal of Cuban troops."
Jorge dismissed the need for Cuban assistance against the UNITA forces of Jonas Savimbi, claiming Savimbi would not be a factor if agreement were reached on Namibia. Luanda has been pictured by Western sources as seeking guarantees against outside support for Savimbi's forces.
"This puppet group has no military strength to meet the Angolan armed forces. In the south, they operate only with the South Africans," Jorge said.
"When Namibia becomes independent, and we hope this will happen next year, I can assure you they Savimbi's forces will disappear gradually. They cannot operate without outside logistical support."
While Jorge admitted to "some progress" on the Namibia talks, he said he did not share the American sense of optimism that there were no serious questions yet to be resolved.
He said agreement had not yet been reached on an electoral system for Namibia, on the makeup of the U.N. force that is to move into the area and on implementation of a cease-fire.